ART AND THE BODY: An observation about Malavika Rajnarayan's oeuvre

ART AND THE BODY: An observation about Malavika Rajnarayan's oeuvre


By Neha Sankhla

The human body has many riveting facets that have been experimented with to disseminate ideas and other qualities in the domain of art since time immemorial. Whether it's dance, where choreography makes full utilization of every part of the body; or theatre, where bodily movements and facial expressions together deliver an act; or be it visual art where the body either serves as a medium or the subject itself, in every age the human body has intrigued artists and audience to explore and experience its form, sexuality, identity and much more. Among such analogous artists, Malavika Rajnarayan's oeuvre too engages with human body, but as a subject.

Malavika Rajnarayan

Malavika Rajnarayan at Anant Art's 3 Solo Shows, IGNCA (March, 2018)

Through her unique interpretation, Malavika creates artworks that give a sense of powerful figural presence. She is fascinated by a multitude of sensibilities associated with the human figure. Elaborating on her approach towards the subject she says I am not really interested in the physicality of body and flesh. It is personhood that triggers my explorations and the human form allows me to stay close to our being. The figures try to embody a spirit of humanness and evoke ideas that may have to do with grace, strength, fragility, femininity, communion Therefore her figures are devoid of any societal marks of religion, race, and caste except for the representation and identity of women in her works. When one goes through her artworks, the dominant factor visible is a rendition of female leads either presented individually or as a collective. Being born in an educated and progressive family herself, Malavika presents her women with dauntless and confident personalities who are unafraid of the male gaze.

Little Whiffs of Defiance

Title: Little Whiffs of Defiance

It is also interesting to see that the presence or evocation of human body in her works is not the only chief element, but she is also equally inspired from nature, away from the hustle bustle of urbanization where she has spent more of her time. In her artworks, Malavika depicts natural settings or its appurtenances that reveal her inclination towards rural environs. Sometimes her affection for nature takes a centre stage and one can see animals and birds as protagonists of her paintings.

Dragonflies Cross

When Dragonflies Cross the Highway Bridge: recent works by Malavika Rajnarayan hosted by Anant Art at Twin Art Gallery 1, IGNCA (March 2018)

In her recent solo exhibition When Dragonflies Cross the Highway Bridge organized by Anant Art at Twin Art Gallery-1 (IGNCA, New Delhi), most of Malavika's paintings were smaller in size that could be the outcome of her fascination towards miniature painting traditions. This particular approach is even visible on large canvases where her figures retain their minuscule form. The various stylistic effects present in her works also extend to Mithila and Gond paintings, Chinese landscape paintings and Japanese woodcuts.

The culmination of all these stylistic and thematic influences gives rise to bright and colourful body of works that are pleasing to the eye. An ending quote by Malavika Rajnarayan:

Art is made to share ideas, to forge connections, to find new ways of understanding the world and to find other expressions that can replace struggle.


Title: Jaggaata

Click here to see Malavika Rajnarayan's Interview

Write a topic

Recent Post

A Verdant Adulator

Born in 1989 Odisha, Laxmipriya Panigrahi grew up in pastoral pleasantry which is apparent in her art works. Panigrahi completed her Bachelors in Visual Arts, Painting from Balasore Art and Crafts College, Odisha in 2013

Read More

A Tête-à-Tête with Aisha Khalid

Aditi Ghildiyal: How will you describe how miniature as an art form has re-invented and re-defined itself in the contemporary times? Aisha Khalid: If we study the history of miniature paintings we would know that

Read More

Me Too Movement: What Next?

This article attempts to explore some of the key concerns raised during the movement and articulate it through the works and theoretical insights of important feminist artists and scholars.

Read More

An Ode to Nature

In today’s day and time human-nature interface has become an active subject of critical enquiry. Centuries of careless exploitation of natural resources has disrupted the inherent equilibrium of the multiple ecosystems existing in tandem..

Read More

An Unspoken Dialogue

The text mostly makes little to no sense if one tried to understand it. Though that does not become a deterrent in what Ghulam tries to communicate. By breaking the inherent grammar..

Read More

Time is a Rider

The art of our times encompasses a broad range of traditional and experimental media. Artists employ diverse vocabulary of abstract and representational forms to convey their message. We live in an age of excessive consumption of resources, energy and information ..

Read More

A True Shrine

This is artist Pratul Dash’s latest installation titled “Temple for Birds”. Merging effortlessly with the pristine idyllic landscape, the 16 feet high and 8 feet wide installation stands at the intersection ..

Read More

(De) constructing Identities

Birender Yadav's works put across strong visual annotations on identity, politics and class distinction in contemporary society, the plight and panorama of the working class.

Read More

HASHIYA: The New Protagonist

We all have been familiar with the Persian word hashiya. Either one understands it as kinara; kor in Hindi or mainly as a border

Read More

FEATURED: Artists with Anant Art - India Art Fair '17

Anant Art returned to India Art Fair this year with nine phenomenal artists

Read More

ART AND THE BODY: An observation about Malavika Rajnarayan's oeuvre

The human body has many riveting facets that have been experimented...

Read More

FEATURED: Top highlights at India Art Fair 2018

An annual jamboree that became an aperture to the colossal world of modern ...

Read More

Anant Artist's top picks at India Art Fair 17

At the fair's ninth edition, the country's largest and most successful art show...

Read More

Kochi Muziris Biennale 2016 | Art comes alive in India's first global biennial

A remarkable array of artworks that will enrapture even the most dispassionate...

Read More

From Aeronautics to Miniatures and everything in between

A trained GPL Pilot, Yasir Waqas has made the most peculiar jump from flying...

Read More

Start Your Own Fine Art Collection

The demonetisation crisis has left many perplexed and brought the economy...

Read More

From cinema boards and dog fights to radical contemporary art

Lahore based artist Muhammad Zeeshan has made a mark in the contemporary...

Read More

From Patron to Collector

The traditional patron always comes across as a selfless figure...

Read More

Indian Art Market 2017 - Forecast

After going through an extensive phase of economic recession...

Read More

Demystifying Iconography #2 | Terracotta Warriors

Welcome back to Demystifying Iconography! In the previous article...

Read More

Digbijayee Khatua: The minuscule illustrator of the metropolis

With a distinct watercolour technique, Digbijayee presents splendid picturesque ...

Read More

Interview with Rubaba Haider

After two successful shows with Anant Art, Rubaba Haider's works continue...

Read More


What's on the corner of your street? Is there a large cat with a ball of string...

Read More

A Look back at Kochi Biennale 2016 | Photo essay

Venues - Aspinwall, Cabral Yard, Pepper House, MAP Project, Anand Warehouse...

Read More

Know Your Street #1 | Lodhi Art District

While tracing the colourful streets of India's first Art District in Delhi's Lodhi Colony....

Read More

Demystifying Iconography #1 | What is iconography?

Britannica defines Iconography as the science of identification, description...

Read More

Buying high-priced art | Good investment policy or easy target for art thefts?

With an increase in cyber crimes and the like, nothing is 100% secure ...

Read More

A New Ecosystem for Art

The absence of a full-fledged government support for the contemporary arts in India...

Read More

Ambience of a momentary vision

I spend most of my time in solitude, being in constant dialogue ...

Read More

Know Your Street #3 | Lodhi Art District

Pune-based street artist Harshvardhan Kadam who runs a studio...

Read More